Design-led organisations : A multiple-case study of the interplay between design and marketing

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The overall purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge base concerning the interplay between design and marketing. Based on the findings from the empirical studies, the aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze how marketing and design interplay in companies and the main reasons for such interplay. The research builds upon a multiple-case study of companies mainly within the furniture manufacturing industry. The research focus is the study of companies described as “design led”, i.e. “characterized by a dominant logic that views design as central to the companies’ strategic positioning”(Beverland and Farrell, 2007). Three different interfaces between design and marketing within the company and towards its external actors are studied.The studied companies illustrate how a company’s desire to create a brand that is closely related to product design creates an effect on internal activities as well as the interfaces to external actors, e.g. customers and suppliers. Based on empirical findings, it is proposed that by being design-led, companies may not only create a competitive advantage connected to the good itself and its product design, but also through its potential to offer new products based on the company’s design competence and its brand image. One such example of new potential is the offering of an integrated interior solution and the concept of “aesthetic complexity” that is introduced and suggested as a driver for such solutions.Moreover, a more general model on the interplay between product design and marketing compared to those previously presented in literature is suggested. This model considers the different company approaches to design, e.g. more or less selforiented, and marketing, e.g. more or less market-oriented. It is proposed that depending on the company’s approach to design and marketing, the coordination between design resources and marketing within the company should be managed differently.This thesis also presents a tentative model on the relationship between the companies’ different desired brand images and their sourcing of external designers. It is proposed that a company’s desired brand image and its design philosophy affect the company’s practices when sourcing external design resources, e.g. in the choice of contracting more or less well-known designers.The conclusions presented in this licentiate thesis may serve as a starting point for managers to understand the interplay between design and marketing in companies. Although still tentative, the conclusions suggest a number of marketing-related prerequisites and consequences when a company aims to be design-led. By considering these different aspects, companies might improve their chances of being successful when creating a brand image that is closely connected to design.

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